MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2013 Activities by Category - Literature

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Is the Bible Reliable? Building the Historical Case

Chris Swanson

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Is the Bible a book of myths and fairy tales, or is it a book of history and truth?  Come for a compelling and intellectually stimulating defense of the reliability of the Bible, presented by Dr. Stephen Meyer.  This is a 5 part series, including lecture and discussion.  Optional free dinner before at 5pm.  RSVP for dinner to  

Sponsor(s): Campus Crusade for Christ
Contact: Chris Swanson, CSWANSON@MIT.EDU

Is the Bible Reliable? - Session 1

Jan/08 Tue 05:30PM-07:00PM 4-159

This session will look at the Patriarchal Narratives (found in Genesis) and the Documentary Hypothesis, as well as examine the Biblical accounts of the Exodus (the Israelite journey from Egypt to Canaan).  Are these accounts mere religious propaganda or is there evidence that supports their historical accuracy?  Free Dinner available before at 5pm.  Email fanqig@mit if you want to come for the dinner.  

Is the Bible Reliable? - Session 2

Jan/10 Thu 05:30PM-07:00PM 4-159

This session will examine the Biblical records of the Israeliste conquest of Canaan and the time period under King David and King Solomon.  Archaeological evidence will be presented to support the accounts recorded in the Bible.   Free Dinner available before at 5pm.  Email fanqig@mit if you want to come for the dinner.  She will let you know the location of the meal.  

Is the Bible Reliable - Session 3

Jan/15 Tue 05:30PM-07:00PM 4-159

This session will examine the Biblical records of the Assyrian and Babylonia conquests over the Jewish people and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  You will learn the astonishing amount of agreement between the Bible and archaeology. Free Dinner available before at 5pm.  Email fanqig@mit if you want to come for the dinner.  She will let you know the location of the meal.

Is the Bible Reliable - Session 4

Jan/17 Thu 05:30PM-07:00PM 4-159

The New Testament, although often maligned by critics, is actually the best attested and most reliable document from antiquity. This lesson examines the marks of historicity for the text of the New Testament - the early composition, internal consistency, and reliability of transmission - all of which outdo any other ancient work. Email fanqig@mit if you want to come for free dinner before at 5pm. Location will be emailed.

Is the Bible Reliable? - Session 5

Jan/22 Tue 05:30PM-07:00PM 4-159

This final session will look at the external corroboration of the New Testament as well as the events recording during the trial of Jesus.  Free Dinner available before at 5pm.  Email fanqig@mit if you want to come for the dinner.  She will let you know the location of the meal.

Love and Romance in Ancient India

Shekhar Shastri

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/07
Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions

Romantic poetry was considered the supreme form of aesthetics in ancient Indian literature. Strikingly uninhibited in their content and intensity, the works of poets such as Bhartrhari, Kalidasa, and Jayadeva are unparalleled in their sublime expression of love which provide deep insight into ancient Indian society, culture, and relationships in general. In addition, a brief background in Indian aesthetics would be provided to help in understanding the literary works and the sensibilities of the era under study; paintings inspired from the above-mentioned love poetry would be shown and discussed

Students would be encouraged to create original works on their own deriving inspiration from the works studied in the class.  The final session will take place in the Indian Art Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Comments from IAP 2011-12 students:  "...very engaging and dynamic...what a wonderful way to learn Indian culture...drew us in immediately...very stimulating...beautiful...moving"


Shekhar Shastri is an entrepreneur, poet, and filmmaker and is a Director of Meru Education Foundation, which produces educational programs on the arts and culture of India. He writes poetry and plays in Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, and English. He has produced four films, one of which was nominated for a National award in India. To register, please email:

Sponsor(s): Mechanical Engineering
Contact: Shekhar Shastri,

Jan/08 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM 1-135
Jan/10 Thu 07:00PM-09:00PM 1-135
Jan/15 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM (CANCELED)
Jan/17 Thu 07:00PM-09:00PM 1-135
Jan/24 Thu 05:30PM-07:30PM MFA Boston

Shekhar Shastri

Jan/22 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM 1-135, Make-up for canceled session on 1/15

Shekhar Shastri

MIT Writers' Group

Steven Strang

Jan/07 Mon 12:00PM-01:00PM 12-134
Jan/14 Mon 12:00PM-01:00PM 12-134
Jan/28 Mon 12:00PM-01:00PM 12-134

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/04
Attendance: Repeating event, particpants welcome at any session
Prereq: none

Want to write something creative but need some motivation or support? Join other writers to get advice about your own writing, to help other writers, or to get inspiration to write something to share with the group--any type of creative writing, including fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction,memoirs, personal essays, plays. Open to MIT undergraduate and graduate students, lectuers, staff and faculty.

Sponsor(s): Writing and Communication Center
Contact: Steven Strang, (617) 253-4459,

Mobile Reading Marathon: Odyssey

Stephanie Frampton, Professor of Literature

Jan/23 Wed 09:00AM-09:00PM location will change

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

Come join the 4th annual Literature-sponsored Mobile Marathon on Jan. 23rd, when we will be reading the ENTIRETY of Homer's Odyssey in a single day for a Homer-athon!  It took Odysseus 20 years to get home from Troy, but through the wonder of the codex book we are redefining what 'epic' means; in the great Greek peripatetic tradition, we will move across the campus reciting (and sometimes performing) the story, in translation. Come and go as you please, or join a hearty crew of professors, students and other community friends who journey together from start to finish.  Starts at 9 am in 14N-417, and moves with the story from East to West Campus, stopping for rest and refreshment in congenial rooms (see room list below). Appropriate garb and monster outfits welcome but not required: just a sense of humor, desire for community, and a willingness to listen or read. Feel free to join during any part of the day.

9:00-10:00: 14N-417

10:00-11:30: 4-349 (Pappalardo Room)

11:30-1:00: 62 (Talbot Lounge)

1:00-3:00: 50 (Pritchett)

3:00-5:00: Lobby 10

5:00-7:00: W20 (Twenty Chimneys)

7:00-9:00: W1 (Maseeh Hall)

Questions: contact Stephanie Frampton

Sponsor(s): Literature
Contact: Stephanie Frampton, 14N-434, 617-253-4452,

On the Screen - activity

Alvin Kibel, Literature Professor

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Examines works of film, television or other screen-based media, with emphasis on texts that are related by genre, time period, style, or director. Listeners are welcome to attend individual sessions.
We will explore various elements of cinematic texts to determine what makes a film an instance or version of a film of a particular kind, members of which all offer versions of the same underlying story. Discerning its kind (or genre) is implicit in understanding any film narrative--why the action makes sense and what it means in relation to lived experience. Genres to be examined will include: Westerns, Detective Films, Musicals, Screwball Comedies, Fantasy, Vampires, Gangster movies, Samurai movies, and a nameless genre: films about the relation of the medium to reality. In addition to viewing sixteen films, we will also read some literary or dramatic texts or portions thereof to compare the treatment of similar narrative patterns in two different media.

Sponsor(s): Literature
Contact: Alvin Kibel,

Mon-Fri, Jan 7-11, 14-18, 22-25, 28-1


Room 14E-310

Alvin Kibel - Literature Professor

Pleasures of Poetry

David Thorburn

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

This popular activity – which aims to reach all lovers of poetry -- has been offered every IAP for the last fifteen years.  Each one-hour session is devoted to a single poet, usually a single poem.  The goal is discussion and shared pleasure.  No lectures or professorial arrogance allowed. Some participants attend every session, but many others attend only once or twice to read and discuss a favorite poet or poem.  The roster of poets is always immensely diverse: from ancient Chinese masters to contemporary American poets laureate, from such famous Greats as Shakespeare, Keats and Auden to Dr. Seuss and Bob Dylan.  Discussion and collaborative close reading are the aim and ideal of each hour.  A packet of all the chosen texts will be posted online ( and will be available in hardcopy from the Literature Office.

Sponsor(s): Literature
Contact: David Thorburn, 14N-335, 3-6950,

Jan/07 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/08 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/09 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/10 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/11 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/14 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/15 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/16 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/17 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/18 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/22 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/23 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/24 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/25 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/28 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/29 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/30 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Jan/31 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304
Feb/01 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

David Thorburn

The Adam Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Rabbi Michelle Fisher, Chaplain, Reverand Kari Jo Verhulst, Chaplain, Dave Thom, Chaplain, Adam Reynolds, Chaplain

Jan/23 Wed 02:00PM-03:30PM W11 Community Room

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

An interfaith reading of Genesis 3 (the Garden of Eden).  Come study a central Bible text in an open, friendly environment and see how you understand (or come to understand) the Garden of Eden story in conversation with those of other faiths and viewpoints.  All welcome, of every and no religious affiliation. Co-sponsored by Hillel, LEM, Vineyard, Leadership Connection

Sponsor(s): Hillel, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Lutheran Ministry at MIT
Contact: Michelle Fisher, 617-253-2982, RABBIF@MIT.EDU

The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged

Brian Remlinger, Lillian McKinley

Feb/01 Fri 08:00PM-10:00PM W16-030

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged is a hilarious play created by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. It parodies all of the old playwright's 37 plays in 90 minutes of high-speed over-the-top hilarity. Come see the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble perform their rendition of the show! Knowlege about Shakespeare's works is not at all necessary. Admission is free.

Peformance Dates:
8pm, Febraury 1st
2pm, Febraury 2nd
8pm, February 2nd

Location: Rehearsal Room B in Kresge (W16-030)

Sponsor(s): Shakespeare Ensemble
Contact: Shakespeare Ensemble,

Weird Science: Finding the Unexpected in the Libraries' Rare Book Collections

Stephen Skuce, Audrey Pearson, Patrick Ford

Jan/11 Fri 10:30AM-12:00PM 14N-118

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/10
Limited to 30 participants
Prereq: none

Here’s your chance to see some of the most intriguing—and occasionally perplexing—books in the library vault. Come see selections from MIT’s rare book collections in a show-and-tell session focused on unlikely “scientific” subjects such as animal magnetism, alchemy, and n-rays. The session will provide short introductions to the unusual topics covered in these books, and will allow participants to view the books up close. Please register at:

Sponsor(s): Libraries
Contact: Audrey Pearson, 14N-118, 617 715-4466, PEARSONA@MIT.EDU

Women, Art and Thought in the Middle Ages

Jimena Castro, Visiting Researcher at Boston University

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/02
Limited to 20 participants
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: none

When we think about the Middle Ages, maybe the following thought comes to our minds: that it was an obscure period, that censorship ruled every man's lives, and above all, women’s lives.  But we would be surprised to know that there were many female voices that expressed their inner worlds and thoughts through writing, music and arts.  This IAP session  seeks to examine the life and work of three important women of this period: Hildegard von Bingen, Joan of Arc and Marguerite Porete. We will explore their historical contexts in order to understand how they achieved their authorities.  These three women will be only a sample of many others that we will mention. Please email Jimena to reserve your place.

Jimema Castro: Professor of Medieval Literature at Universidad Diego Portales (Chile); Ph.D.c in American Studies, Universidad de Santiago (Chile); MA in Literature, Art and Thought at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain) and BA of Literature at Universidad Diego Portales (Chile)

Sponsor(s): SpousesandPartners@mit
Contact: Jimena Castro, 617-637-6632,

Middle Ages and Women

Jan/08 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 56-169

The aim of this session is to make an introduction to Medieval Thought, with a special focus on the relation between spiritual and intellectual life of Women in that period. We will study some images and texts that tell us a lot about women's thought.

Jimena Castro - Visiting Researcher at Boston University

Hildegard of Bingen: The Art

Jan/15 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 56-169

We will explore on the life and work of the Benedictine Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. In this session some relations between the work of Hildegard and modern painters will be established.

Jimena Castro - Visiting Researcher at Boston University

Marguerite Porete: The Thought

Jan/22 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 56-169

Marguerite was neither a nun, but neither a secular. She was a beguine, and in that status, she had a hard relation with authority.  But her biggest "mistake" was to enter into philosophical inquiries through her book that ended up burnt with Marguerite herself. In this session we will analyze her book The Mirror of Simple Souls.

Jimena Castro - Visiting Researcher at Boston University

Joan of Arc: The Action

Jan/29 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 56-169

In this session we will study a different way of religiosity, that is the one that calls to fight. Joan, as is well known, claimed to hear the voice of God that asked her to fight in battles.  We will analyze the relation between spirituality and life, and the way that Joan thought of the Commandments.

Jimena Castro - Visiting Researcher at Boston University